“Moonbeams” is a periodic message from me in an attempt at reflecting the light.I hope these “Moonbeams” foster reflection in your own life.Every Blessing, Rev. Denny Moon
“I am sending you like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals…whatever house you enter first say, ‘Peace be to this house.'”(Luke 10:3-5)
My last Moonbeam drew from Luke 10 as Jesus is giving directions to how the 70 followers are to go out into the villages and spread the gospel. Without purse, bag or sandal, they go out vulnerable, asking for hospitality from people they don’t know. “Peace to this house,” they are to say. Then Luke says, “Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide.” This is a big ask in an area where they might be served food that does not conform to dietary laws. But accepting hospitality as it is given still applies to us today, even without kosher restrictions of Judaism.
When I was 11 years old, my Dad took a church for a summer outside of Gary, Indiana. I became friends with Jerry, a kid my age, whose family was large and poor. He invited me over to his house for supper and my Dad drove me to his house and on the way he said, “Their family is different than ours, but they are good people.” And I wondered what he meant by that, but I didn’t ask. Then as I got out of the car he said, “Just make sure you eat everything they give you.” “Sure!” I said.
The house was messy…piles of shoes and clothes by the door, books and papers in a corner, plates with watermelon rinds sitting on a wooden box that was repurposed as an end table. My Mom would never have stood for that, I thought. The kitchen had a long table in the middle with a table cloth that didn’t reach the ends. Jerry said we were having a special meal, chicken, because I was there. When we sat down, his Dad asked me to pray, because I was the minister’s kid. I said the, “Come, Lord Jesus,” prayer and then everyone grabbed at the nearest bowl of food. “Manners!” his mother barked, “The guest gets served first.” Jerry’s older sister said, in a sing-song voice, “Cause he’s a P.K.”(Preacher’s Kid) “No,” said her mother, “Cause he’s a guest.” Jerry whispered to me, “My sister’s a brat.” His mom passed around a plate of nine drum sticks. “One per customer,” she said. There were nine of us around the table, six of their kids, two parents and me. There was no Shake ‘n Bake or barbecue sauce on the chicken legs and they seemed underdone. I took one. Then came carrots, also underdone. My mom-trained palate was on edge. And then they passed a weird smelling vegetable unknown to me. I paused, looking at them. “Its leeks!” his older sister declared. “I bet you never ate leeks before.” “No,” I said, “I haven’t.” “And I bet you won’t eat ’em now,” she grinned. Her mom said, “You don’t have to eat them if you don’t want to.” “Oh, I like to try new things,” I said, lying. So I put some on my plate and took a bite. They were horrible, like sour onions stinging your mouth from the inside. “Good, aren’t they?” the sister asked. “Yup,” I said, gulping it down and forcing a smile. “They are good.” We finished our plate and Jerry and I shared a popsicle for dessert. We shot hoops until my Dad picked me up. The next day Jerry told me that he heard his sister tell his mom that for a P.K., I wasn’t such a bad guy.
It was years before I understood why my Dad had told me to eat everything they served me. He didn’t want them to think that I thought I was a cut above them. He didn’t want me to act “upper-class” to them. No eyebrows raised in judgment, no food reviews, just gratitude for food and company. He wanted me to accept their hospitality as they gave it, to join their household and their customs, whatever they might be. Like leading with vulnerability, accepting the hospitality of people just as they offer it to you, is not only saying, “Peace be to this house,” but being peace to the household.